Lesson 7: Cosmology and Chaos

1. The Theology of Creation. Aristotle and the eternity of the universe. Cyclic theories of time in ancient cultures. The Old Testament: Genesis and the Psalms. Creation ex nihilo. Pantheism, dualism and deism. Contingent and necessary worlds. Determinism, indeterminism and randomness. The rationality of God and the freedom of God. The importance of the theology of creation for the rise of science.

2. The Philosophy of Creation. What does it mean to create? Can there be an absolute beginning?

3. The Science of Creation. History of astronomy. Einstein's general theory of relativity. The universe as an object of scientific study. The expansion of the universe. Hubble's law. Theories of the origin of the universe. The big bang and steady state theories. Lemaitre and the primeval atom. Continuous creation. The oscillating universe. The first three minutes. The microwave background radiation. The origin of the elements. The singularity of the universe. The anthropic principle.

4. Chaos theory. Does it mean that the world is indeterminate?

Reading List

J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford, 1986.

W.L. Craig and Q. Smith, Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology. Oxford, 1993.

W.B. Drees, Beyond the Big Bang. Quantum Cosmologies and God. Open Court, 1990.

F. Dyson, Scientific American 225.25. 1971.

I. Gleick, Chaos. Pergamon, 1987.

S.L. Jaki, Science and Creation. Scottish Academic Press, 1976.

S.L. Jaki, God and the Cosmologists. Scottish Academic Press, 1989.

C. Kaiser, Creation and the History of Science. Marshall Pickering, 1991.

L. Lederman, The God Particle. Bantam Press, 1993.

H.G. Pagels, The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics and the Language of Nature. Michael Joseph, 1982.

R.J. Russell, N. Murphy and C.I. Isham (Eds). Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature. Vatican Observatory, 1993.

W. Newton-Smith, The Structure of Time. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.

D.O'Connor, and F. Oakley, Creation: The Impact of an Idea. Charles Scribners', 1969.

W.M. Richardson and W.J. Wildman, Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue. Routledge, 1996.

D. Sciama, Modern Cosmology. Cambridge, 1971.

H. van Till, The Fourth Day. Eerdmans, 1989.

S. Weinberg, The First Three Minutes. Deutsch, 1977.


1. Is the universe eternal or does it have a beginning and an end?

2. What does it mean to create out of nothing?

3. Is the universe necessary or contingent? How is this related to our belief in God and what are the implications for science?

3. What is the evidence for the expansion of the universe?

4. Describe the big bang theory and evaluate the evidence in its favour.

5. Why are the Steady State and oscillating universe theories no longer considered plausible?

6. Discuss the evidence in favour of an inflationary universe.

7. What is the Anthropic Principle, and does it lead to any scientific or theological conclusions that can be tested?

8. What is meant by chaos? Does it imply that the world is indeterminate, or just unpredictable?


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